Director: Town should begin charging nonresidents for programs

by Katie Orlando

DAVIDSON – Davidson Parks and Recreation is ready for a new, more fiscally responsible home.
Currently, Parks and Recreation is paying $46,350 to rent 16 Armour St. The rent will increase in the next two years, and department Manager Kathryn Spatz told Davidson town board members that the building is too large.
At the board’s regular work session Tuesday, Sept. 27, Spatz proposed purchasing a building at the end of South Street, near the entrance to the Kincaid greenway. The building has a flat yard conducive to outdoor programming, and the building’s bathrooms would be accessible from the outside, open to people using the lawn or greenway, Spatz said.
The board doesn’t take formal action at its work sessions, but commissioners said they’re open to the move.
“I see this as a great place to grow as the entrance to our greenway,” Commissioner Brian Jenest said.
During Town Hall work sessions, Mayor John Woods invites residents to join the discussion, and commissioners usually update and introduce town initiatives.
Spatz also recommended instituting nonresident fees for parks and recreation facilities and programs. Davidson, she said, is one of the only towns in the area that does not currently charge nonresidents to participate in park programs. As part of the new park initiatives, Spatz wants to institute a process for residents to apply for Parks and Recreation scholarships.

Board will continue private, mini-meetings

Also Tuesday, commissioners, Woods and Town Manager Leamon Brice discussed the regular Tuesday meetings Brice holds with one or two commissioners. Since Brice never meets with enough commissioners to constitute a board quorum, the meetings are not open to the public.
While some residents have questioned the meetings, saying town leaders should be more transparent in their discussions, commissioners said they are important for information and focus.
While the board unanimously supported continuing the mini-meetings, Woods acknowledged citizens sometimes see quick, 5-0 votes in town meetings and don’t realize that there has often been months of discussion on the issue.
“I will focus on trying to draw more conversation when we’re here (in town meetings) so the public sees that there is discussion,” Woods said.

Details on federally-funded health assessments

Williams and Planning Manager Lauren Blackburn gave an in-depth explanation of Davidson Design For Life and the health impact assessments the town will perform with grant money recently awarded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These assessments are part of the federal health agency’s response to growing concerns about metabolic diseases born from a lack of exercise, Williams said.
Davidson will help to develop these relatively new assessments, Williams and Blackburn explained. So far, only about 70 assessments have been done across the country, Blackburn said.
The University of California at Los Angeles has participated in many. Examples of completed assessments can be found at their health impact assessment website, www.ph.ucla.edu/hs/health-impact/.
Davidson and five other agencies across the country got federal grants to create their own assessments, which federal officials will use to standardize health assessments for widespread use. Williams predicts federal officials will eventually mandate the assessments on some level to inform policy and development decisions.
Residents can find more information about Davidson Design For Life under the DD4L tab on the Davidson website, www.ci.davidson.nc.us/.

Farmers Market, housing coalition reports

The Davidson Farmers Market saw an outstanding summer, Dreffer reported, with attendance up and farmers happy. The market will continue every Saturday through October. Starting in November, the winter market runs every other Saturday.
Davidson Housing Coalition Executive Director Marcia Webster presented the coalition’s recent state award to the board. The N.C. Center for Nonprofits honored the Davidson Housing Coalition with the Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Award, recognizing the successful maintenance of a nonprofit with limited resources, Webster said.
In other discussion Tuesday:
• The Red Line Task Force has approved policies to advance the commuter rail project, but an official plan is not expected before December, Jenest, who chairs the Lake Norman Transportation Commission, said. The task force will meet Oct. 26 at 4 p.m. in room 266 of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.
• The N.C. Department of Transportation is working quickly to advance high-occupancy toll lanes for Interstate 77. Planners hope to have a delivery model determined by December.